Misinformation starts early in Bernard Goldberg's latest book

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI & SIMON MALOY

Early in his new book A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media, Bernard Goldberg offers an example of the media's purported "pro-Obama bias" that collapses on minimal review. In Chapter One, Goldberg cites as evidence the fact that The Early Show ran a segment called "Five Things You Should Know About Barack Obama" that featured trivia about Obama. But five days later, the show ran a segment called "Five Things You Should Know" about Sen. John McCain.

In the introduction to A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media (Regnery), which Media Matters for America obtained in advance of its January 26 publication date, Bernard Goldberg claims that during the 2008 presidential campaign, "the mainstream media crossed a line. As a result, their credibility is in tatters. Hardly anyone trusts them anymore." But an example Goldberg offers early in the book -- in Chapter One -- of the "mainstream media['s] cross[ing] the line" collapses on minimal review. Goldberg writes that the media were "championing" Obama and cites as evidence that the June 18, 2008, edition of CBS' The Early Show ran a segment called "Five Things You Should Know About Barack Obama" that featured trivia about Obama. However, CBS also ran a segment days later called "Five Things You Should Know" about Sen. John McCain. The segment featured trivia such as McCain's high school nickname, television and movie cameos, and enjoyment of bird-watching and the fictional character Borat.

Goldberg writes in his first chapter:

Still, some on the Left were arguing that while there indeed was a pro-Obama tilt in the media, it had nothing to do with liberal media bias, which they dismissed as a conservative myth. What was really happening, their argument went, was that Obama was beating McCain in the polls and that perception -- of Obama as a winner -- was what was driving his favorable news coverage. And while there may be something to that, there was also the tone of the coverage, the fawning, I'm-just-so-thrilled-to-be-in-Obama's-presence tone -- that led many of us inescapably to conclude that a lot of mainstream journalists were not just covering Barack Obama, they were championing him.

[...]

There was Jeff Glor, one of the rising stars at CBS News, who reported on "Five Things You Should Know About Barack Obama." Sounding more like Obama's campaign manager than a network news correspondent, Glor helpfully related some really crucial information on the fastest rising star in politics: "In addition to enjoying basketball and cycling during down time, Obama loves to play Scrabble. ... Obama's job as a teenager was at a Baskin-Robbins and to this day he does not like ice cream. ... This is a man who plays to win. No matter what it is, whether it's the woman he wants to date or elected office or board games, there is an ambition there. There is a determination."

You can't make this crap up! [Pages 16-17]

But The Early Show also ran a "Five Things You Should Know" segment about McCain days later. During the June 18 broadcast following the segment on Obama, Glor even mentioned that the McCain segment was "[c]oming up soon enough." From the Nexis database transcript:

JULIE CHEN (co-host): All right, so when do we get to learn about the five things we don't know about McCain?

GLOR: John McCain coming up. That's our next segment.

CHEN: All right.

GLOR: Not today.

CHEN: Not tomorrow?

GLOR: Coming up soon enough.

CHEN: Oh, that's a tease.

GLOR: TBD.

CHEN: All right. All right. Jeff Glor, thanks so much.

Indeed, on the June 23, 2008, edition of The Early Show, co-host Harry Smith said: "Last week we showed you the five things you probably didn't know about Barack Obama. Now we continue our series, Five Things You Should Know, this time about John McCain." During his report, Glor discussed, among other topics, McCain's high school nickname and stated that McCain was a "maverick even back in high school." Glor later reported a "couple other things we learned about John McCain that did not quite make our list," including that McCain is "an avid bird-watcher," is a "huge fan of Borat" and has made appearances in the movie Wedding Crashers and the television drama 24. Glor concluded by expressing his "takeaway" from the list: "I would say with John McCain's it's a commitment to country, the idea of service. I mean, this is a man who's done everything, been everywhere all over the world and still there's this desire, I'm not done yet."

From the Nexis database transcript of the June 23, 2008, edition of The Early Show:

SMITH: Last week we showed you the five things you probably didn't know about Barack Obama. Now we continue our series, FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW, this time about John McCain. And here with some interesting political tidbits, EARLY SHOW national correspondent Jeff Glor.

Good morning.

GLOR: Harry, good morning to you. So much of John McCain's story is so well-known, it was not easy coming up with five things. But here's a list we think might surprise you.

MCCAIN: I've served our country all my adult life and I am prepared...

GLOR: Number five: McCain was not born in any of the 50 United States.

WALTER SHAPIRO, Washington Bureau Chief, Salon.com: John McCain is the first presidential candidate to be born in--wait for the beat--the Panama Canal Zone.

GLOR: In fact, McCain lived there almost the whole first year of his life. His father had been stationed there by the Navy, creating an eventual source of controversy.

SHAPIRO: The Constitution says a president has to be a natural-born citizen.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think we're all--feel really good that being assigned to the Panama Canal by the Navy and being born on a military base where you're doing your duty makes you an American citizen.

GLOR: Number four: A maverick even back in high school, John McCain was nicknamed "The Punk."

Offscreen Voice #1: There was always the cigarette in the corner of his mouth.

GLOR: A reputation that followed him to the Naval Academy.

SHAPIRO: John McCain graduated five slots from the bottom of the Annapolis class of 1958.

GRAHAM: I'd loved to have met the other four. He's obviously a very bright guy. I think his problems at the Naval Academy had to do with his maverick streak more than his intellect.

GLOR: Number three: When McCain was shot down in Vietnam, it was not his first, it was not his second, but his third plane crash as a pilot.

GRAHAM: I think John represents the spirit of a Navy fighter pilot to the fullest, and I will just end it with that.

GLOR: Number two: McCain's North Vietnamese captors called him "The Crown Prince."

(Excerpt from Vietnam era footage)

Offscreen Voice #2: Who is your father?

MCCAIN: His name is Admiral John McCain.

(End of excerpt)

GRAHAM: John's dad was in charge of the Pacific.

Offscreen Voice #3: (From Vietnam era footage) Want some light?

SHAPIRO: And the Pacific included the air over Vietnam.

GRAHAM: They were going to let him go as a gesture to the United States, and John said basically no.

GLOR: And the number one thing you might not know about John McCain? When he first ran for Congress, he was charged with being a carpetbagger.

SHAPIRO: John McCain decided to move to the state of Arizona, a state in which he never lived, and run for the US House in 1982. The Republicans running against him shouted 'Carpetbagger! Carpetbagger!'

GRAHAM: And I think he had a pretty good reply. 'For the longest I've stayed anywhere was in Vietnam.' And that put it in perspective.

SHAPIRO: Game, set and match.

GLOR: A couple other things we learned about John McCain that did not quite make our list. Senator Graham told us that McCain is an avid bird watcher and a huge fan of Borat. And did you know, Harry, that McCain has a budding acting career, appearances in both the movie "Wedding Crashers"...

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

GLOR: ...and the TV show, "24."

SMITH: Next time Borat comes, we'll have to let him wrestle with McCain. Borat...

GLOR: I remember seeing that, actually.

SMITH: Last week there was kind of a takeaway...

GLOR: Yeah.

SMITH: ...about Barack Obama's ambition. What is your sense, your takeaway from the five things you didn't know about John McCain?

GLOR: I would say with John McCain's it's a commitment to country, the idea of service. I mean, this is a man who's done everything, been everywhere all over the world and still there's this desire, I'm not done yet.

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